Adventures in Spinning

Wow, I haven’t posted in ages.  Since that time I’ve taken up a new hobby: spinning.  Like many first timers I started out with a drop spindle.

Basket of spinning goodies IMG_0125 

This particular one is the Ashford Classic and weighs in at 90gms (about 3oz).  I’ve named her Big Bertha as I now realise she’s about as heavy as drop spindles come and the weight of your spindle actually affects the thickness of the yarn that you can spin. Basically, the heavier the spindle the thicker the yarn needs to be so that it can support the weight of the spindle itself.  Teeny tiny thin thread is actually spun on supported spindles that rest on a surface, usually a bowl, so that the thread can be spun without needing to be able to hold up the spindle.  Apparently most people use Bertha weight spindles only for plying (twisting already spun singles together to make a more stable yarn).  But, I love the super chunky yarn I spun up on her and plan to make a giant shawl using 25mm needles and one of these adjustable shawl patterns.

Fist handspun skein

Also, as many spinners eventually do, I have acquired a wheel.  Two, infact.  The first wheel was $60 secondhand and unfortunately doesn’t work once there’s yarn in the equation.  Also, she’s an out of date model so I can’t easily order a replacement for the not so useful homemade fixed bit with which she came.

IMG_0126
IMG_0128That mismatched bit is called the flyer and it spins superfast (good) and then jumps off (bad).  The general advice to new spinners (that I heard later) is to avoid handmade or discontinued wheels as replacement parts are hard to find.  It’s good advice.

So now I have a new shiny wheel as a combined birthday/Christmas/everything gift from my very generous grandmother.  This model is an Ashford Joy2 and is designed for portability and has a great carry bag option.  Fortunately years of playing cello in school have left me with a high tolerance for carting baggage around.

There’s not a lot of spinning wheel dealers here in Oz so the brand choice was pretty simple (Ashford or order online with crazy shipping costs and little to no actual dealer support).  Model wise I chose the Joy2 as it packs away very well and so is safe from sticky little people fingers.  Also the wheels that offer more versatility (such as the Traditional which can be upgraded left right and centre) aren’t as portable, and I really wanted something I could take out with me or easily cart along to guild meetings.  The first time I packed it up and put it in the back of the car I knew I’d made the right choice.  It’s also handy to be able to keep it packed away from the kids.

Here’s some more of my early spinning efforts:

IMG_0088IMG_0129

My next challenge is to find something I can make with such small amounts of wool…

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